Hi Everyone! My name is Laura Ashwood and I’m writing to you from the chilly state of Minnesota. Having grown up in North Dakota/Minnesota I am no stranger to the occasional winter blizzard, but I’ve thankfully never been through anything like the Schoolhouse Blizzard of 1888.
In January, 1888, a massive cold air mass with a spread of over 780 miles, moved into the United States from Canada. The temperature on the front end of the cold front in some places dropped from above freezing to -20°F in just hours. The storm was extremely fast moving. It entered Montana in the early morning hours of January 12, swept through Dakota Territory and was in Nebraska by mid-afternoon of that same day. Because of the warm spell preceding the storm and the swiftness with which it moved, most people were ill prepared. In just minutes, the strong winds and powdery snow made for zero visibility. The combination of bitter cold temperatures and high winds resulted in a death toll of 235.
Another massive blizzard struck Easter Sunday, April 13, 1873, which began as a pleasant day in southeast Nebraska. That afternoon, rain moved in and temperatures began to drop. During the night, the wind picked up and by morning eighteen inches of heavy, wet snow had fallen. The storm raged for two more days, finally abating on Wednesday, April 17. Drifts as high as 20 feet had accumulated in some areas. Many people perished, including a woman with an infant that died just feet from her home, along with thousands of head of livestock.
So, why am I telling you about blizzards that happened over one hundred years ago? It’s because I’m part of a multi-author series called The Blizzard Brides. This series is loosely based on both of those blizzards. What happens when nearly all the men in town get killed during a blizzard? What are the women to do? This group of talented authors takes that question to task, each story following the journey of one of the women as she begins to rebuild her life.
This is my second historical romance. One of the things I strive for when I write historical is to make sure that I get as much accurate detail for the time period as I can. In my story, A Groom for Ruby, Cullen Parker has a dark past before he ends up in Last Chance. I got to research such things as train robberies, stagecoach robberies, gold mines, and place like Dodge City and San Francisco. Much of that research doesn’t make it into the book, but I love being able to work in some of that information.
In this book, Cullen is making his way back to Dakota Territory, hoping to get a job at the Homestake Mine in Lead. The Homestake Mine was a real working gold mine during that time period. It was actually the largest, deepest mine of its type in the United States. It was operational until 2001, and two of my uncles worked there in 1950’s and 1960s. So, not only did I get to add a bit of reality to my fiction – I was able to make it personal.
Do you like it when authors do little things like that? Do you want to know about it?
I’d love to give away a copy of A Groom for Ruby, as well as a copy of my first historical, An Agent for Clarissa, which is part of the Pinkerton Matchmaker series.
Please stop by my website, and if you sign up for my newsletter, you’ll get a free copy of Snowflakes & Second Chances, a contemporary novelette. I’d love to connect with you on Facebook or Instagram, and you can find inspiration boards for all my books on my Pinterest.
Rugged, Dangerous, and Wild: The Timeless Elements of Western Romance
Something strange and majestic happens when you chase the sun across the Mississippi River. Your heart fills with promise and wonder. Your mind races with dreams of what could be. Your skin tingles with the fear and excitement of the unknown. Your very soul connects with those long since passed who risked all they had to experience a new world.
It’s easy to see why the most thrilling, adventurous, and romantic stories take root in the American West. Unlike other fiction genres, Western Romance doesn’t differentiate between historical and contemporary. All the stories share an understanding that no matter how hard we try, the land won’t be tamed, and neither will the human spirit.
Here are five timeless elements of Western Romance:
Who doesn’t love a story where the hero or heroine must face terrible odds to achieve their heart’s desire? The West has its fair share of natural danger to keep the characters on their toes: earthquakes, drought, dust storms, flash floods, wildfires, landslides, tornadoes, avalanches, etc. Seriously, in Yellowstone National Park, boiling water shoots out of the ground. At the summit of Pike’s Peak, there is a rocky area called The Devil’s Playground because lightning bounces from rock to rock. And if that doesn’t raise the stakes enough, there are human foes driven by desperation or greed to get what they want and need. See that man with the sharp-looking Stetson and shiny revolver? He’s probably an outlaw, train robber, greedy oil tycoon, or shady real estate developer.
Do you know why so many characters in western novels are hot-tempered? Because they realize that any time they walk outside, they could be bitten by a snake or killed by a grizzly. They could be wearing a prairie dress or yoga pants, and it doesn’t matter. The threat is still there. In addition to scary animals, there’s the chance one might get lost in a forest, break down in a desert, or fall off a mountain.
Authors know that if you want to push a character out of their comfort zone, drop them into a western setting. Unless you are in one of the big cities, the West still has a rustic quality to it. Cell phone coverage is spotty. Wi-Fi is rare, and you can drive a hundred miles and never see a road sign except for Wall Drug. Even historical characters must learn to accept fewer “modern” conveniences than those on the East Coast. Sweet Bostonian schoolteacher, were you used to electric lighting and a warm bath? Here’s a lantern, pail, and a map to the creek.
The first character of mine that I fell in love with was a desperate pastor who flees to Montana for a fresh start. Be it 1821 or 2021, there’s a certain romanticism in leaving one troubled world behind and beginning all over again with new dreams, new foes, and maybe a new love. Who doesn’t love a good fish-out-of-water story?
Show me a western novel, and I’ll show you a feisty, hard-headed, and determined hero or heroine willing to work to the bone to get what they’re after. Rules, traditions, and societal expectations didn’t often fit in the wagon on the Oregon Trail or the saddle pack en route to Texas. To survive the Old West, characters need grit, fortitude, and self-reliance. Generations later, their modern-day equivalents need confidence, drive, and even a touch of swagger to make their dream of a happy ending come true.
YOUR TURN: What do you love most about Western Romance? Would you say it’s timeless?
If you’d like to know more about my contemporary rustic romance novels, including my Madison River Romance series, please visit my website at http://www.JanineRosche.com or connect with me on Facebook.
Prone to wander, Janine Rosche finds as much comfort on the open road as she does at home. This longing to chase adventure, behold splendor, and experience redemption is woven into her Madison River Romance series. When she isn’t writing or traveling, she teaches family life education courses to college students, takes too many pictures of her sleeping dogs, and embarrasses her four children and husband with boy band serenades.
In the settling of the U.S., owning land used to be the primary dream of almost every man–rich or poor. It was something tangible that meant you had worth and the owner could use it however he saw fit. But how were the sales handled when almost every town had a land office?
The General Land Office created in 1812 was an independent agency of the United States government responsible for all the public domain lands. It took over this function from the Treasury Department that had been in effect since 1785.
The General Land Office was in charge of surveying, platting, and selling of public lands. In addition they oversaw the Homestead Act and the Preemption Act in disposal of public lands.
During the Westward Expansion period, land sold at such a frantic pace that it was difficult to keep up. As I said, everyone wanted a piece to call their own.
Every town of any size had a land office where prospective buyers could see what was available. If they bought some, a deed was recorded and registered at that county’s courthouse which then made its way to the General Land Office in Washington D.C. But given the slow speed of travel, it might be a year or more before it got registered. And unscrupulous land agents could sell the same land twice or several times over. I see how easy it would’ve been. And how killings would’ve taken place. The West had no one to oversee a lot of things.
In 1946, the General Land Office and the U.S. Grazing Service merged to become the Bureau of Land Management.
In my newest release, ONCE UPON A MAIL ORDER BRIDE, Ridge Steele served as the mayor and land agent in the outlaw town of Hope’s Crossing. Unlike others, he is honest and above board in his dealings and in the recording of deeds.
To settle this fledgling town, he and his friends send for mail order brides through Luke Legend and his private bride service. Ridge is the last of his friends to get one.
When Adeline Jancy arrives, she’s more than he ever dreamed in every respect—other than she couldn’t speak. Due to horrifying trauma, she’s lost her voice. Ridge doesn’t have to marry her, but he does. He likes what he sees and figures she’ll do just fine.
He soon discovers Addie can throw a hissy or argue as well as anyone—all without words.
Their love grows slowly and ripens into a passionate story for the ages. From the moment they strolled onto the page, I knew they were perfect for each other in every way. Each had their own strengths that complemented the other as should a real relationship.
Do you believe in love at first sight? Or do you think it takes time to develop only after the couple has come to know each other? I’m giving away a copy of this book (winner’s choice of either ebook or print.) I’ll draw on Saturday.
Hope you’ve all had a wonderful holiday and are happy to be beginning a New Year. Here’s a hope and a wish that this year will be so very much better than last year.
IRON WOLF’S BRIDE, second in The Wild West Series, is a new release for me. Set within Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Shows, Iron Wolf’s Bride encompasses two continents, both America and England.
I’ll be giving away a free e-book of IRON WOLF’S BRIDE to a couple of bloggers (2 bloggers). So do consider leaving a comment, since this is how one enters into the drawing. We have guidelines, by the way, for our giveaways — you can see them off to the top right here.
So here we go: I’m going to post the back cover blurb of the book and then an excerpt. Hope you’ll enjoy both.
IRON WOLF’S BRIDE
I will return to you, my love…
Jane Glenforest’s father believed she was too young to marry, so he’d stolen her and her newborn son away from the handsome Assiniboine Indian she’d wed and taken her to Surrey, England. In spite of divorce papers and rumors he’s wed another, Jane’s never forgotten the man who’d stolen her heart and given her son legitimacy. When Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show comes to England—bringing her ex-husband with it—Jane’s curious to see her lost love, in spite of her new fiancé.
Although Iron Wolf’s purpose in working for Bill Cody’s Wild West show is to fulfill his father’s vision to find and stop a deceiver, he fell in love with and married Jane Glenforest. But, no sooner had Jane given birth than her father stole her away. Now, a few years later, Iron Wolf is arriving in England with the hope of rekindling the love he once shared with Jane. However, instead of love, he finds his wife loathes him, believing he has married another. And, when he discovers she is engaged to another man, he declares war on both her and the fiancé.
But when their son is kidnapped, Jane and Iron Wolf must work together to rescue him. And, as danger escalates, they discover trusting each other might be the only way to save their son. Will Jane and Iron Wolf learn to forgive one another, to reignite the embers of a passion that never died, or will the lies of a deceiver destroy their love forever?
Warning: Rediscovered love might cause sleepless nights spent in the arms of one’s true love.
Let me tell you a little about the book before I attach an excerpt.
As I said above IRON WOLF’S BRIDE is the second book in The Wild West Series, my newest series.
I’ve planned three books in this series and two of them are released, Book #1, THE EAGLE AND THE FLAME and Book #2, IRON WOLF’S BRIDE.
The third book, BLUE THUNDER AND THE FLOWER, is a work in progress at present.
But let me tell you a little about this series. It concerns three men, who are part of the secret Society of the Wolf, The Clan of the Scout. Two of the men are from the Assiniboine Indian Tribe and one is from the Lakota Tribe. They are on a deadly serious mission.
The chief of the Assiniboine tribe has had a terrifying vision: that someone called the deceiver, or trickster, spells doom for the children of his tribe, and eventually for all Indians. The old chief is desperate and enlists the aid of two young men from his own tribe and one young man from the Lakota tribe to join Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. He has been shown in a vision from the Creator that help for his people can be found if these three young men can become a part of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. There, within the framework of the show, the old chief has been shown that he may appeal to the President of the United States — or his representative — for assistance; also, to find and stop the deceiver who means to harm the Indian Tribes.
Because traditionally scouts were the most trusted individuals within the tribe, the old chief appeals to two young men who are a part of that society. One of them is his own son; another is a young man who is the most accurate shooter with the bow and arrow as well as a gun. The third young man is to be found from the Lakota tribe.
These three young men become part of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, and, in addition, they become one of the most popular events in the show, especially with the young ladies. But these three young men care very little about any fame or fortune that might be attached to being so popular. Their concern is to find and disable the trickster and all his associates, so as to free the next several generations of Native American children from harm.
Within this series of three stories, these young men — although not looking for love — discover true love along the path to discovering this real evil which is threatening their tribes.
Enjoy this excerpt of the book:
Earl’s Court Exhibition Grounds
Jane Glenforest felt as though her world was shattering. How dare he. How dare he come here.
Of course, she needn’t have bought the tickets to see the Wild West Show. But, she’d been unable to resist the impulse to come here today to see if he were still with the show. And, surely, there he was, surrounded by the usual crowd of women.
It still hurt. Seeing him again only made the pain of what had happened between them worse.
Eventually, she’d have to go down there where he was, for her sister still worked with the show; indeed, her sister, Luci, was even now dressed as a boy. Did this fact mean that she and Luci were still in danger? Surely that was behind them now. It had been two and a half, almost three years since the trouble.
Jane watched from a top section of the bleaching boards as her former husband and lover, as well as his two friends, wooed the feminine, English hearts. He and his friends, having finished their athletic performances in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, were now engaging the crowd in a different skill: American Indian-style singing and dancing.
The three friends had taken up a position that was in front of and close up to the tiered bleaching boards. Already, several of the young English women were leaving their seats, were filtering into the arena and joining the Indian women there. Together, these two different groups of ladies formed a circle around the three performers.
And, there he was: Iron Wolf. He stood in the middle between his two friends, Wind Eagle and Blue Thunder. Wind Eagle was drumming on what appeared to be a buffalo-hide drum, which he held in his hand. Blue Thunder shook two rattles. Both Blue Thunder and Wind Eagle were singing, while Iron Wolf blew into his Indian-styled flute. Feathers and strung beads hung from the instrument, which more resembled an English recorder than a flute.
She remembered that flute. Iron Wolf had often played it for her, and once, over two and a half years ago, he had used it to make her smile when she’d felt downtrodden.
She watched Iron Wolf as he danced. He was the only one of the three men who was dancing. As the others were singing, Iron Wolf took a moment to swing around in a circle, then bent over at the waist, keeping time to the rhythm and looking as though he were a nineteenth-century Kokopelli, who was, of course, the ancient American Indian Casanova.
His dance was stimulating to her, although she was an unwilling recipient to the blatant sensuality of his movements. Whether Iron Wolf intended it or not, the dance he was doing was not only exotic, it was erotic, and several of the women surrounding the three musicians were also bobbing up and down to the rhythm, looking as though they were part of the unusual performance.
Once again Jane wondered why he had come to England. He didn’t have to come. He could have stayed behind.
Didn’t he know she was here? It wasn’t possible that he would not know, if only because their divorce papers listed her current residence as being in Surrey, England. Was he so insensitive that he didn’t realize how much it would hurt her to see him again, to observe him flirting with other women, to witness him with his new wife?
Perhaps a better question would be to ask herself why she had come here. Yes, good manners dictated that she visit with her sister, but she also needed to talk to Luci more seriously, if only to find out why her sister had never written. Why had she never answered Jane’s many letters?
But, she hadn’t any real necessity to come to the show for that reason. Not really. She could have sent a note to Luci and her husband, Wind Eagle, inviting them to her uncle’s estate.
All at once, Iron Wolf unexpectedly jumped into the air, only to land in an athletic split upon the ground, and Jane recalled that this same man had once appeared to fly through the air in an effort to rescue her and their baby. To her disappointment, his attempt had failed.
But, this was all in the past. Once, not too long ago, he had loved her. Once, she had loved him to distraction. But their love was over now. It was dead.
And, she had recovered from its extinction. She’d had to, for she was raising her small son without Iron Wolf’s aid. Indeed, her once-unconditional love for Iron Wolf had died about a year ago when he had divorced her. It was that simple.
She had grieved for months, but had forced herself to move on with her life and had put her infatuation with Iron Wolf behind her. Her future now lay with another.
Little Jeremy Iron Wolf, Jane’s son, laughed, his antics serving to bring Jane back to the present. She glanced to her right where her friend and nanny, Marci Fox, sat. Marci was holding Jeremy in her arms, while Jeremy wiggled his small fingers, entangling them in Marci’s long, nearly-black hair.
Jane smiled. “Here, I’ll take him,” she said, as she moved to gather her son into her arms. “I’m thinking we should be leaving soon.”
Marci nodded and grinned. “Look at your son dance up and down to the drum. Do you think he knows that he belongs in the Western culture on display down there?”
“No,” replied Jane, “although I admit I used to think this was so. But not now. Let’s go.”
“Yes. Are you going to try to see your sister?”
“Not today. Tomorrow perhaps.”
“But tomorrow you are to be married. Will there be time?”
Jane bit her lip. “Yes, well… Perhaps you are right. Will you come with me while I try to find my sister?”
“Then, I suppose we should go down there,” Jane replied, then sighed. “Mayhap, we might find someone who will lead us to her. Maybe, too, I might invite her to dinner tonight…. Possibly…”
That’s all Jane would say on the subject for now. But she did wonder why, in all this time, Luci had not written. Like Iron Wolf, had Luci changed so much?
Well, there was nothing to do about it now. Luci was here in London, and she was, after all, Jane’s sister.
Positioning young Jeremy on her hip, Jane rose up from her top seat beneath the white canvas awning covering the bleaching boards of the Wild West Show. Stepping toward the stairs on the far side of the sitting arrangement, she carefully made her way down toward the arena. That the bottom edge of her light-blue walking dress dragged on the steps, dirtying it, was, for the moment, forgotten. What was more important was what her stomach was doing. Her entire body was trembling. Her stomach in particular felt as though butterflies had taken residence within it.
Would he see her? Would he even recognize her? He might not, since two years ago, Jane had been forced to wear a disguise. At that time, Jane had managed her hair into a tight chignon, and she had worn a wig of long, dark hair whenever she was away from her sleeping quarters. Yes, he had seen her as a blonde, but rarely, and mostly in the privacy of their bedroom. She’d been pregnant then and he’d only been privy to a brief glimpse of her as a slim, young girl before her father had come and whisked her away. Would he even know her now?
He might. Unlike many men, Iron Wolf seemed unusually perceptive, attentive to the minutest detail in his environment. He saw elements around him that another might miss.
Her light-blue hat, however, might cause him to pass her by, for it was wide brimmed, with feathers on top to give her small, five-foot-four figure more height. It hid her face, also.
She inhaled deeply…for courage.
Having descended to ground level, she stepped forward onto the field of the arena. The three young American Indian singers had not yet finished their performance, and Jane hoped she might be able to avoid detection as she glanced into the distance, her gaze searching for Luci. However, it was not to be.
Her first indication that she had been recognized was when Marci touched her shoulder and said, “He comes, I fear.”
There was no need to say who “he” was. Apparently, he had detached himself from the rest of the performance, and Jane watched as Iron Wolf approached her.
Dear Lord, why did he have to look so handsome? Tall, with a slim, muscular build and long legs, he sauntered toward her, his gait smooth and graceful, as though the mere act of walking were an art form. His hair had come a little loose from where he usually clipped the two braids behind his head, and the Assiniboine-style “bangs” blew in the wind. He wore dark-blue, cotton pants that fell to the ground and were long enough to almost cover his moccasins. His breechcloth was white with blue, red and green beaded decoration, and his shirt was light blue. A beaded, white vest was secured in front with what looked to be leather ties, and a white bandana was tied neatly around his neck.
Jane took another breath as her stomach alerted her to the danger coming toward her, and she realized with mounting dread that she was not immune to him. She should be, but she wasn’t.
And she, who was to be married to another man tomorrow….
She pasted a smile on her face as she prepared herself to confront the man she had once loved with all her heart.
He had watched for her all through their performances this day; he had even counted on her being here, for he’d suspected that her father might have taken her to England. Indeed, his antics today were for her benefit, alone.
He had despaired, though, when he hadn’t caught a glimpse of her in the crowd. However, as he and his two friends had begun their singing, he had espied her, there in the top row of the seating arrangement. All through their first singing performance, he had felt as though he had gobbled her up with his gaze. Had she felt the intensity of his emotions? Did she know that he played his flute for her? That he wooed her with it? That his dance was for her, and only for her?
His heart beat fiercely in his breast as he approached her now. Two, almost three years ago, he had known her as a pregnant woman and she had been beautiful then, both in spirit and in body. But to see her now, slim, holding their son on her hip…it was such a stunning sight, he was certain he would never forget it.
In many ways, it was hard to believe that she was his wife, for her beauty was unusual to his eye. Small-boned, feminine and clothed as she was in the English style of dress, she looked calm, cool…and untouchable. The light blue of her dress might complement her coloring of light skin and pink cheeks, but its color added to the illusion that there was no history between them. She looked foreign, cool, out of reach.
All those years ago, her hair had been dark, almost black whenever she was in public. He had come to learn that it was a wig she wore, that the true color of her hair was an unusual shade of white-yellow. On her, the hair color was beautiful, although he had to admit that to him, it was still foreign to his eye.
He felt a stirring in his loins as he measured his steps toward her, and he marveled at the power of his attraction to her. She was his wife, and, although their love had been left to simmer over the ashes of a two-and-a-half-year-old fire, he felt his hunger for her stirring again within him.
He stopped directly in front of her, and, as was Indian tradition, he simply looked at her. It was a sign of respect he bestowed upon her, and he didn’t speak, nor did he extend a hand toward her. He simply gazed at her, admiring her lovely face.
She looked up at him briefly, then glanced quickly away.
“Why are you here?” she asked, her voice low and sweet, though within those tones, there was an air of hostility toward him. She didn’t look back at him, leaving him to do little more than admire her attractive profile.
Although her words weren’t exactly welcoming, he yet felt heartened. He was here and so was she. They were, at last, together again. He said, “I am happy to see you, my wife and my son.”
She did nothing in response at first and he watched as she swallowed hard before she gained her composure and uttered, “How dare you call me that.”
To say he was astonished by her tone of voice, as well as by her words, would have been an understatement, and it took him a moment to respond. But at last, he asked, “Call you what? I do not understand. What did I say that you object to?”
“’Wife.’ That’s what I take offense to and you should know it.”
Clearly puzzled now, he asked, “Are you not my wife?”
“You know I am not.”
He had not expected her anger; sadness, perhaps, that he had not been able to find her sooner. But antagonism bordering on what appeared to be disgust? And, what did she mean that she wasn’t his wife?
He watched in surprise as a tear slipped down her cheek. Why was she crying? It seemed incomprehensible to him that she was so upset, especially because his emotions were intense and happy; he was, after all, reunited with her. Yet, he could not deny that those were tears. Reaching out a finger toward her, he traced the path of the tear’s salty wetness.
But she batted his hand away, saying, “Do not touch me!”
He nodded and took one step backward, and, by way of apology, he murmured, “I mean no assault.”
“Don’t do this!”
He said nothing. He didn’t, however, avert his gaze from her, for she was truly angry with him. Why?
“I am looking for my sister,” she stated after a pause; still she did not look at him. “Do you know where I might be able to find her?”
“I do,” he answered calmly. “If you follow me, I will take you to her.”
“I will not follow you anywhere, sir. Simply tell me where she is, and I shall go there.”
“She is in the corral,” he told her without pause. “But come, the time is long since we have seen or talked to one another. Could we not take a moment to speak kind words to each other? You are angry with me and I do not know why. Perhaps if we share our thoughts with one another, we can renew our acquaintance. But, if it is your wish to see your sister now, I would be honored to take you to her.”
“Don’t do this to me, Iron Wolf. I will not go with you. Is it your wish to parade that other woman in front of me? Is that why you wish to accompany me? No, I will not allow it.”
Iron Wolf realized at last that he was completely baffled. He questioned, “Another woman?”
“Do you really expect me to say it?”
He could only stare at her, confused.
“Your other wife! That is who I am speaking of. Do you think I don’t know of her existence? Did you believe that you could throw me away and marry another without my knowledge?”
“Throw you away?”
“Please, stop this. I…I’ve seen the pictures of you with her. Did you expect that I would not? I also have our divorce papers that you signed. So, do not pretend innocence with me. I…I can say no more.”
Iron Wolf felt as though he were bedazzled. True, he was confounded by her accusations, but he was also in awe of her. Angry or not, he continued to be happy to see her. But, he did question how a woman could be so angry, yet exude such beauty at the same time.
Accused of acts he hadn’t done, he knew no other course of action but to tell her the truth, and so he said, “I tell you no lie. I have no other wife. But I do wonder, who has told these lies to you?”
She didn’t answer his question. Instead, after a short moment, she called over her shoulder, “Come, Marci.”
He watched as his wife turned and brought forward the young woman who had been standing behind her all this while. Then, his fine-looking, yet irate wife said to the one whom she called Marci, “We will find my sister without any help.”
But, before they left, and in defense, he uttered, “I tell you this true. I have no other wife, but you.”
“It is you who lie, for I have a news clipping of this wife you claim you don’t have and of you…pictures…newspaper articles…as well as our divorce papers. And those, Mr. Wolf, prove that it is not I who is telling lies, but you.” Then she turned away, and, within moments, she was walking away from him.
She loathed him, he realized perhaps too late. And, he supposed that from her point of view, she might believe she had reason to show him dislike.
He watched her until she turned a corner and was no longer in his line of vision. He frowned. Two, almost three years ago, Jane and her sister had faced a trouble that had almost taken their lives. He had thought the incident had resolved itself, and that his and Jane’s forced separation had been the act of a jealous father.
Now he wondered about the truth of that. His wife’s reaction to simply seeing him again caused him to further speculate. What had happened here, and, perhaps more importantly, why had something bad happened here? Did it have anything to do with what had occurred to Jane and her sister two years ago? He didn’t know, but he promised himself that he would discover these answers, and soon….
Howdy, Everybody! My name is Julie Lessman, and I’m wondering if anybody remembers the above musical intro to the hit Western TV series back in the day, Bonanza? Probably not, because I’m pretty old, but it was a staple in our household growing up and not just in ours either. Bonanza is ranked No. 43 on TV Guide’s 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time, and the 2013 TV Guide included it in its list of The 60 Greatest Dramas of All Time, still in syndication today.
So … why am I talking about an almost 60-year-old TV show? Well, despite the fact I’m primarily known as an Irish family saga author with novels set during the early 1900s on both coasts, one day I had this Western series percolating in my brain so strong I could smell the chicory coffee. Next I know, the dad-burned thing caught on fire like the Ponderosa map at the beginning of every Bonanza episode.
It’s called The Silver Lining Ranch Series, and it’s the story of two suffragists from New York, a godmother and her goddaughter, who fall in love with confirmed bachelor ranchers in Virginia City, Nevada (where Bonanza was set) from 1868 till the 1890s. This is an absolutely fascinating era on the heels of the transcontinental railroad and the discovery of the Comstock Lode silver mine upon which Virginia City was built.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that writing a Western scared the pejeebers outta me because, well, to be honest, I was intimidated by so many wonderful Western authors I love like Mary Connealy, Karen Witemeyer, Winnie Griggs, Kit Morgan, and Margaret Brownley, most of which—gulp—are part of this amazing blog!
But once I got into the fascinating research—like the Transcontinental Railroad, which lots of Irish workers helped build (YAY!) and Virginia City, which numbered as many as 115 saloons in its heyday (BOO!), I knew I found a home in the Wild West!
So I’m a-lookin’ to give away some books today, including my latest Western release, Love’s Silver Bullet, which is book 2 in the Silver Lining Ranch Series. Now, to give you the flavor of this novel, my talented artist hubby created a realllllly cool VIDEO/TRAILER that also features pix of my grandchildren, so I hope you check it out.
And if you do and send me an email via my Contact Julie tab on my website telling me where the heroine, Sheridan Donovon, went to school, I will send you a FREE E-COPY of the prequel novel to this series, For Love of Liberty.
Have you ever run across some interesting tidbit in history that you wanted to learn more about?
Here’s a sneak peek of my series:
A Match Made in Heaven?
Or Someplace a Whole Lot Warmer?
She’s stubborn, educated, and looking
to give women the vote.
He’s bullheaded, successful, and looking
to give her a piece of his mind.
But when things heat up, they just may give each other
a piece of their hearts.
Next, here’s a gander at book 1 in the series, Love’s Silver Lining:
She tampers with his life.
He tampers with her heart.
Love tampers with them both.
And finally, my new release, Love’s Silver Bullet:
She’s targeting his love.
He’s aiming to steer clear.
Till true love picks them off
in a bull’s-eye of the heart
In addition to my video/trailer giveaway mentioned above, I am ALSO giving away winner’s choice of the entire Silver Lining Ranch series in e-book OR a signed paperback of her choice of one of the novels in the series. So leave a comment, and you’re automatically in the draw!
I’m so honored to be here today! When I received the invitation to write this guest blog post, I was beyond thrilled! So thank you so much for the invitation, Karen!
I thought the best thing to do was tell you about my debut novel which just launched.
I’ve always been drawn to mail order bride stories. My heart has felt so compassionate for the women who found themselves in the position of needing to marry for financial survival in times gone by. I marvel at the bravery of the couples that took that risk.
“The Expectant Mail Order Bride” is such a story. Meggie James is heartbroken and hopeless when she loses her husband in a tragic accident. Her options are few and her situation is dire, complicated by the fact that she has a baby on the way. With little family to turn to, she sees an ad for a mail order bride.
Thomas Kellen has suffered his own losses. He’s lost his wife and is left with a beautiful little boy to raise on his own. It’s a task that’s proving to be too much with a ranch to run and he’s desperate for a solution. Though it’s unconventional, he advertises for a wife.
When Meggie arrives in Springwater, Texas, there’s a little detail she may have neglected to mention. She’s expecting and that’s something Thomas never expected!
In addition to that little tidbit, other issues arise. Thomas can be gruff when afraid, which is practically all the time since he lost his first wife in childbirth and his new wife is facing just that. He’s also very much a man’s man (don’t we just love those?!) and Meggie has a very independent spirit! Clashes are bound to happen.
Then there’s the more tender element that they don’t have a matching faith and Meggie is discovering that her hurts can only be healed by The One she’s ran from for so long.
I hope you’ll come along as their story unfolds.
You’ll also meet other characters that will have their own personal journeys and love stories in books yet to come. “The Expectant Mail Order Bride” is book one in the “Springwater Sweethearts” series.
You’re in for a treat. Jan Sikes is sitting in for Linda Broday today and she has a heck of a new book to tell you about. Oh, by the way, she’s also Linda’s talented little sister. Please welcome her to the Junction!
I’m so happy to be here at P&P talking about my first contemporary romance. Thank you for having me. I’ve written four full-length biographical fictions about my life with country/western performer Rick Sikes. But now I’m writing romance and it’s so much fun. My creative juices are flowing in a totally different way.
One of my greatest joys in life is going to hear live music. I loved it as a little girl and even more now as an adult. COVID-19 has put a halt to all live music for the time being, but I miss it and long for it to return.
In Ghostly Interference, Jag Peters plays an electric keyboard. Music is his passion. He loves every aspect of it. He longs to play on the big stages to sold-out crowds. It’s the dream he holds and protects deep in his heart.
In a scene early in the book, he confesses this desire to Rena, then questions himself at his willingness to share that secret.
So, when his mother sets up a benefit concert and brings a man out of retirement to perform that Jag has idolized his entire life, he is on cloud nine. All his life, he’s wanted to meet his idol and now he has the chance. Little does he know this will change everything.
Jag Peters has one goal in his quiet comfortable life—to keep his karma slate wiped clean. A near-miss crash with a candy apple red Harley threatens to upend his safe world. He tracks down the rider to apologize properly. Slipping into a seedy biker bar, he discovers the rider isn’t a “he”, it’s a “she”, a dark-haired beauty.
Rena Jett is a troubled soul, who lives in a rough world. She wants no part of Jag’s apology, but even while she pushes him away, she is attracted to him. When he claims to see a ghost—her brother—can she trust him? And could her brother’s final gift, a magical rune stone with the symbol for “happily ever after” have the power to heal her wounds and allow opposites to find common ground—perhaps even love?
A local radio DJ personality took to the stage and slipped a microphone off the stand. “Ladies and gentlemen, if you’ll all take your seats, we’re just about ready to get this show started. Are you excited to be here?”
The crowd applauded and some whistled.
“All right! But first, I want to say a word about the charity you’re supporting here tonight. The Exodus Project has helped women escape from abusive situations for over six years here in Cedar Springs. And without your contributions and fundraisers like this one, it wouldn’t have the outreach that it currently does. So, thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.”
Jag grinned and winked at his mother when she slipped into the empty seat next to Rena. Again, he had a strong feeling something was up with her.
The DJ continued. “So, without further ado, I present to you a man who has graced stages around the world, and we’re honored to have him here in Cedar Springs on this stage tonight, Damien Blue!”
Jag held his breath. The band came on first kicking it off with the intro to Damien’s first big hit. The high-energy straight-ahead rock, heavy on the backbeat sound, they were famous for poured out of them.
The crowd cheered.
Thirty seconds later, Damien strolled onto the stage, guitar slung across his back, both hands in the air greeting the audience.
Jag felt Rena shift beside him and glanced at her to see her eyes wide and mouth slack.
Mesmerized, he focused on the man he’d admired for a lifetime. Tall and lean, he had a commanding presence. Dressed in black pinstripe pants, white silk shirt open to mid-chest and matching pinstripe vest, he could have stepped out of a fifties gangster movie. The fedora pulled low over his eyes and sharp-toed shiny black Spats completed the look.
People were on their feet, clapping, whistling and yelling. One woman’s voice rang out. “I love you, Damien!”
He flashed a dazzling grin and stepped up to the microphone. “I love you too, darlin’.”
Even under the fedora, Jag could see streaks of gray in his brown hair. He was close enough to see small lines at the edges of his idol’s blue-gray eyes. Eyes that held intrigue, mystery, and power.
When Damien shifted his vintage Les Paul Gold Top guitar around to the front and delivered a blistering riff, the audience went wild before they finally took their seats. Damien’s soulful whiskey flavored voice filled the auditorium.
Jag knew every word and every chord. He immersed his entire being into the music, unaware of anything else. He never took his eyes off his hero. The electricity he’d felt earlier settled down to a low steady hum under his skin and rang in his ears along with the amplifiers.
Tell me about the most amazing concert you ever attended. Did you get to meet the artist? I want to hear about it! I’m giving away one ebook copy of the book to two people who comment.
We’re delighted to welcome author Carole T. Beers to the Junction. Scroll down for her giveaway.
“Home for the Holidays.” I love those feel-good words, the timeless idea and yearning they represent for many of us. Basically, that idea is hope—a theme of my novella, “In from the Cold.” The story centers on how an old man facing retirement and a dying marriage while Christmas and blizzards fast approach, rescues an abandoned horse off a snowy Oregon mountain. In performing that one selfless act, he rescues himself. He restores hope and a sense of belonging and cause for celebration not only in himself, but also in his struggling foster daughter and her differently-abled son.
Wow. Sweet! Happy tears. We all want a safe place where we are loved, free to be. We also want holidays, time off to feel peace and to reaffirm special traditions and connections. Yet sometimes seemingly unsurmountable obstacles block our way. Do we give up? Hello! We cowboy or cowgirl UP, as characters in my Pepper Kane Mysteries say.
It’s the same with us writers. Notably, THIS writer. We want a place to be, to strut our stuff and express ourselves in safe, even welcoming, places. This lovely blog and the heartful Western vibe it puts out, is one of those places. A virtual “home” with you friends gathering ‘round. Thank you! And may your days be merry and bright.
How do you plan to keep the spirit of Christmas alive during these hard times? Comment below for a chance to win a signed paperback of “In From the Cold.” It’s my gift to you!
I came to fiction writing after 30-plus years working for The Pulitzer-winning Seattle Times newspaper. I covered celebrities, car crashes, community events and climate aberrations. Reviewed the arts. Skewered buffoons. I even leaned to fly planes, train and show horses, shoot guns! Though not at the same time. Cue polite laughter and loud crickets.
I came to writing modern West stories of separation, struggle, reunification and hope— brightened with humor—almost from the start. Why not? I am, after all, an offspring of westering pioneers, who needed grit and hope and humor to survive. I like to inspire adventurous, preserving and hopeful attitudes in readers.
Horseback riding and writing five days a week, and aligning with Spirit, help me keep it all together. Pay it forward. Enjoy.
There are dark days. Oh yes. There are family, aging or work challenges that I must persevere through. I hate these times! But I also realize they can make me stronger and teachable. and hopeful. So I keep riding, writing, working on love. And on coming “In From the Cold.”
Thank you for reading! I appreciate the chance to toot my horn, on P&P.
Is it really only two and a half weeks before Christmas? Wow! Time is going a little too fast for me. Rush…rush…rush…
But, if I can take a moment in the midst of all the rush, I’d like to talk about the concept of giving and how it was a little different in Native America.
In the days of old, before the white man came to this country and influenced the American Indian into other traditions, giving gifts to others was a point of survival. No chief could become chief who did not give to the needy and the less well to do. Often the chief of the tribe was the poorest person in the tribe because he gave away almost all that he had. However, contrary to a more socialist point of view, this was not pure socialism, because the giving was never regulated and never mandatory. (Compare that to our income tax system.) Only the strong, the wise and the kindhearted could be counted on to give, and it was considered one of the most aspired-to attributes.
Actually, it requires a bit of mind change to grasp the American Indian idea of giving. If a man attained a higher state or did some great deed, he was not given something by the tribe, but rather, he gave gifts to others. If a woman attained some desired state (a young girl attaining puberty for instance — or an older woman being praised for her handicraft) she and her relatives worked night and day to give gifts to others. An example of this might be this: Say it is your birthday, but instead of you getting gifts on your birthday, you and your relatives would work for months and months in order to have a feast, where one would give to the community in celebration of something one attained. This was considered the highest honor one might place upon a family member.
This tradition is still carried on in Native America today. When a family wishes to distinguish one of its own, members of the family will work for many months (sometimes years) to produce goods, not for oneself, but to give away to others — in honor of the family member. In this manner, we have an example of giving something that cannot be measured in terms of finance. The gift of caring, the gift of giving of oneself and one’s time.
These presents in Native America weren’t wrapped. Sometimes the offerings were simply in the form of food or clothing or blankets. Sometimes, in the case of a marriage or some other big event, items such as a tepee were donated to the cause (remember in the movie, Dances With Wolves and the tepee the star of the movie was given?) When one couldn’t give because one didn’t have the wherewithal to do so, that person might give away all that he had. In this way such articles were kept afloat in the society. Sometimes one bestowed the very best possession that he treasured most, especially so if there were a sickness in the family and one wanted to ensure their beloved one’s recovery. Sometimes the donation was in the form of gifting a service to one’s people. Certain societies had stringent rules about bundles or other sacred items and most people didn’t want the responsibility of taking care of these items (such as becoming a bundle holder.) In this case the bequest would be in the form of the entire family taking on the responsibility, in order to preserve the spiritual traditions of the people.
This picture was taken at a give-away celebration that my friend, Patricia gave many years ago. Another aspect to the American Indian’s way of thinking, was that it was considered a great honor if one gave in such a way that the other person didn’t feel they had to return the favor. This happened to George Catlin in the 1830’s when a young warrior bestowed him with the diary that Catlin had lost. The giving was done in such a way that Catlin was unable to give-back, since he was embarking upon a ship.
There is yet another example of giving by the American Indian comes to us from the Iroquois. The Iroquois (which was composed of originally 5 tribes and eventually 6) had a system of government that was truly Of the people, For the people, and By the people. Men served and were never permitted to draw any kind of pay for serving — it was simply considered their duty and their way of helping the tribe. Such service is still in operation today.
I’d like to disagree with corporate America for a moment if I might. I think the most potent gifts are those that one cannot measure by physical means. When my kids were growing up, they used to give me coupons for Christmas — I still have them to this day — little chores they would do for me upon presentation of the coupon. I guess the point is that one can always give something of themselves to another.
And here’s the most beautiful gift of all — something that those who crave material wealth over all else will never understand nor will they ever receive this gift (though some might pretend an affection) — the gift of love — true love. No gold, no silver, can ever replace these gifts, since they have their roots in one’s heart and one’s nature.
And so, I would like to make this wish during this New Year’s season: That the reasons for war — and the profit received from war — will perish from this earth.
And with this thought in mind, I leave you with a YouTube video of a song performed by Keith Whitley (who I believe is one of the best country singers to every grace the stage).
Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here. I am excited to announce the release of my first Amish Romance novel Her Amish Wedding Quilt, will release in just a little over a week. This is a genre that for me as a writer wasn’t even on my radar 16 months ago. But then last September an editor contacted me and asked if I’d be interested in trying my hand at writing one. It so happened I was at a point in my career where I was ready to try my hand at something new so I jumped at it.
It’s been quite a year as I’ve immersed myself in research and all things Amish, trying to learn the ins and outs of this unique culture. I’d actually planned to make a couple of trips to Amish country this year but we all know what happened to travel plans in 2020 🙁
Anyway, Her Amish Wedding Quilt is the first of a three book series that will follow the Eicher sisters. This one features Greta, the middle sister, and Noah Stoll, a widower doing his best to raise his two preschoolers with the help of his younger sister.
Greta is a bit of an outspoken, take charge kind of gal, which is something of a problem since everyone tells her she needs to tone it down a bit if she ever wants to find a husband. Noah has just learned he needs to stop relying on his sister’s help and his answer is to find a wife.
The book opens on the first day of a brand new year with Greta convinced this is the day her best friend, Calvin Stoll will propose to her. But by the end of the day her whole world has come crashing down around her.
In this scene, Greta, who has successfully done some matchmaking in the past, has decided to help Noah out more as a way to take her mind off her own problems as anything. Oh, and for those of you not familiar with Amish dialect, here is a quick glossary:
fraa = wife
Gotte = God
jah = yes
kinner = children
mamm = mom
“Esther told me you asked her to help you find a new fraa.”
Something akin to irritation flashed across Noah’s face before his guard went up. “And why did she feel the need to speak of it to you?”
“She and I are good friends and she knew I’d help in any way I can.”
“Help you find a new fraa, of course.” She smiled. “And a mamm for your kinner.”
His guard eased a bit, but now he seemed ready to dismiss the subject. And her. “I appreciate your desire to help me, but I think this is something best left to Esther. She knows me and she knows my preferences.”
Greta wasn’t going to let him get rid of her that easily. “I realize Esther is your cousin and you might be more comfortable dealing with her. But perhaps you don’t know that I have experience helping other young men find a helpmeet.”
“Jah, I’m aware that you’ve played matchmaker in the past.”
The way he said “played” got her back up, but Greta decided to ignore his tone and keep her focus on convincing him he needed her help. “Then perhaps you’ll understand why Esther thought I’d be able to help in your search as well. If you give me a chance I know I can find a woman who’ll make you happy.”
“What do you know about what will make me happy?”
Good question, especially after her spectacular failure on her own behalf. And for a moment her certainty wavered.
But then she rallied. This was different. “I believe I understand people well enough to know who’ll get along nicely together and who won’t.” At least when it came to others.
He raised a brow at that. “Do you now?”
She refused to let his skepticism affect her again. “It probably sounds like pride and boastfulness to you, but it isn’t. I believe this is a gift from Gotte, just as your skill with woodwork is, and that it would be wasteful not to use it.”
She saw him sober at that and study her thoughtfully.
Trying to press her advantage, she quickly added. “But of course you’ll need to help me figure out some of your own specific likes and dislikes.” Would he agree? She realized she wanted to help him, that she needed to find some purpose to fill the emptiness that was stretching out in front of her.
But rather than respond directly, he asked a question of his own. “Why do you want to do this?”
“Because I love your kinner and want to help see that they are well cared for. And also because I think it’s something I can do well.”
“And for no other reason?”
She squirmed a bit under his steady, much too perceptive scrutiny. Surely he didn’t know about her feelings for Calvin and what had happened New Year’s Day.
She tilted her chin up. “What other reason would there be?”
Noah saw the slight reddening of Greta’s cheeks that belied the confident expression on her face. Was she thinking of Calvin? If she’d been so wrong about his brother’s feelings, how could she possibly know what he needed? But somehow it seemed cruel to point that out to her. And what could it hurt to let her try? “I suppose we could give it a try.”
Her face blossomed in a smile that made him blink—it had been a while since he’d seen those impish dimples of hers.
Her hands clasped tightly together as if trying to hold in some big emotion. “Good.” Her tone was charmingly businesslike. Apparently she’d wanted to do this more than he’d realized.
I hope you enjoyed this sneak peak at Her Amish Wedding Quilt. To be entered in the drawing for an advance copy of the book, leave a comment related to Amish fiction – love it, hate it, never tried it but want to, or anything else that fits the bill. I’d also love to know what you thought of this set-up and excerpt
An Amish seamstress and a single father have a chance to make a fresh start in this heartwarming first novel of a new series.
Spirited, forthright, impulsive – everyone told Greta Eicher she’d have to change her ways if she ever hoped to marry. Then her best friend Calvin, the man she thought she would wed, chooses another woman. Now Greta’s wondering if the others were right all along. Her dreams dashed, she pours her energy into crafting beautiful quilts at her shop and helping widower Noah Stoll care for his adorable young children.
Noah knows it’s time to think about finding a wife. When Greta offers to play matchmaker on his behalf, Noah eagerly accepts. After all, no one knows his children better. But none of the women she suggests seems quite right, because, unexpectedly, his feelings of respect and friendship for Greta have grown into something even deeper and richer. But will he have enough faith to overcome the pain of his past and give love another chance?